Press release and appeal to the councilors: Vote against the monopoly in NGO sector

Institut alternativa has called upon councillors in local parliament in Podgorica to vote against the decision, whose adoption would create the monopoly of three NGOs, discriminatory and without any legal basis, directly supported by the state.

Our appeal to the councilors is available below:

Dear Mr/Ms Councillor,

The agenda of Parliament of Capital City of Podgorica, for Tuesday 28 February 2017, contains the Decision on the transfer of rights to dispose of construction land to the Government of Montenegro, for the needs of implementation of project to construct the building of “House of Civil Society”.

We address you, as a councillor in the Parliament of Capital City, with an Integritetappeal to vote AGAINST this decision.

We have been dealing with this issue publically for the last two years. We believe that the plan of Government and Capital City to create state-backed monopoly of three organisations, without the transparent procedures, withot clear legal basis and in discriminatory manner, without the respect of principle of equal opportunities, which would in turn bring those organisations in an unfair advantage compared to everyone else and enable social and political power at the cost of pluralism, equality, as well as the autonomy NGO sector.

Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain the minimum of information during previous two years about the key elements of this endeavour either through our representatives in the Council for Development of NGOs, or through the direct requests for access to information.

We have nothing against the private arrangement between some (any) foreign private foundation and three (whichever) non-governmental organisations from Podgorica. Donors have their sovereign rights to choose their partners. However, it is unacceptable investment of state land and release of utility taxes for the investor, without the rules and fair competition for public resource in doing so.

Hence, we urge you to pose, during the discussion in the Parliament discussion on the proposal of this decision, the questions as follows:

  • What is the market price of land which the Capital City waives based on this decision?
  • Within which state or local policy are planned the needs for such decision?
  • Who requires 3697 square meters of urban construction land, more precisely, what type of facility shall be built on such ground?
  • Is the Capital City aware of the type of facility which will be built on that parcel?
  • Is the Capital City familiar with the purposes of construction of the so called
  • House of Civil Society – is this information part of any official document which is available to the councillors?
  • Why did the Government and Capital City agree to let the donor make the selection of 3 organizations out of thousands registered on the territory of
  • Capital City, which will manage the assigned parcel of land through the Foundation!?
  • Why NGOs aren’t equal in the exercising of possibility to secure decent conditions for work, i.e. business premises?
  • Why hasn’t the Capital City offered similar conditions to other organisations for years and decades?
  • Why hasn’t the Capital City waited longer and then adopted the decision which would ensure equal right, under the same conditions and in line with transparent procedures to every NGO?
  • Why Capital City did not offer anything similar for years and decades to other NGOs?

Based on which merits have these 3 NGOs indebted the Capital City of Podgorica to award this public resource under these conditions compared to other almost two thousands organisations (total of 1717 NGOs, 1574 associations, 66 fondations)?
At the end, does the Article 25 of the Law on State Property defines the limitations for giving the state property to the legal person outside of the public sector?

We remind that state of Montenegro has no programmes of support intended for: investigative journalism, research centres or organisations which award grants to other NGOs

We remind that state of Montenegro has no clear, written, transparent or fair procedures for the allocation of state property to NGOs, or for exemption from paying the utilities, or for the transfer of urban construction land without the compensation to NGOs.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that European Commission has recognised this issue in its Report on Montenegro for 2016.

“There was no focus on the priorities previously identified with Strategy of Development of non-governmental organisations (NGO) for the period 2014 – 2016, for transparent procedures and free ceding of public space to NGOs.”

Excerpt from the report of European Commission on Montenegro for 2016

Also, the Joint Consultative Committee of Montenegro and European Union has taken a stand on this declaration from 2016, adopted in Brussels.

“Members of JCC urge the Government of Montenegro to norm the process of allocation of state land and property to NGOs and other civil society organisations in order to regulate the model of non-financial support to NGOs and other CSOs on national level. Members of JCC also urge Montenegrin local self-governments to initiate this process on local level in cooperation with civil society organisations.

Excerpt from Joint declaration for 2016

Before you make any legally binding decisions which may incur financial consequences regarding the project with the so called HCS, we urge you to prepare and adopt the policy and procedure for state support to NGO concerning the provision of business and office space for NGOs, in line with which other actions will be conducted during the implementation of project House of civil society, but also make space for other NGOs to compete for the realisation of equal rights.

Finally, we remind you that the Strategy of Development of NGOs envisaged the adoption of acts which define the policy of allocation of space to be used by NGOs, as well as that this obligation was never implemented.

Would you need any additional information, please feel free to contact us.

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